Video game developers know the value of their own products so much that they go to great lengths to prevent piracy. After all, who else gets away with selling a piece of polycarbonate plastic for $65 a pop? Unlike Apple or Rhapsody, who just lock digital downloads and prevent them from unauthorized use, video game creators show more of a creative side and end up the last ones laughing at video game pirates. Here are five of the funniest (or most creative) ways video game developers punish pirates – and it’s not really about prevention.
Michael Jackson: The Experience for Nintendo DS
Players are in for a soccer shock when they try to load pirated copies of Michael Jackson: The Experience on their Nintendo DS. And no, Michael’s visage doesn’t pop out on the screen in a ghostly holograph.
Instead, players are greeted with those blasted horns from the World Cup. That’s right. Vuvuzelas. According to Wired magazine, the vuvuzela ruckus plays to the melody of “Beat It,” which is evidently what the game’s creators feel like doing to the pirates.
Batman: Arkham Asylum for PS3
It’s bad enough that there’s a real “intentional” glitch in the game for the honest players who paid through the nose for this game (i.e. “me”), the game’s creators thought they’d wrap pirate players’ hands behind their backs and limit Batman’s strength against his enemies. (That intentional glitch, by the way, is where your game all of a sudden goes haywire, your TV screen looks like it just died and you’re suddenly playing the part of the Joker for a few minutes).
According to Orange County Weekly, the bat glide is one of many signature moves pirated players can’t take advantage of in the pirated version of the game. In order to move on in the game, Batman has to unlock certain achievements – the bat glide being one of them. So in other words, pirates’ play gets stalled – literally.
Red Alert 2 and Command and Conquer
Gamesradar.com outlines a particularly effective anti-piracy measure, as experienced when playing lifted copies of Red Alert 2 or Command and Conquer.
According to the site, pirates get no more than 30 seconds to set up army units and towers before the game spontaneously blows them up. That’s right. You might as well have built your foundation on C4.
Sometimes it just takes a non-digital means to protect digital entities.
In The Secret of Monkey Island (does anyone actually play that?) players have to match particular dates using a two-faced circular board with a dial. If they can match the split pirate faces on each side of the dial, the date of a hanged pirate displays on the board. Players have to punch in this date before they’re allowed to complete the rest of the game.
Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis
Try fighting machine gun bullets with blanks. Well, if you pirated a copy of Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis, that’s exactly what you can expect.
The game’s developers played a nasty trick on pirates. If you don’t own a real copy, your ammo is replaced with blanks – or no ammo at all. So you get to die an embarrassing death… over and over and over again.
Eventually, you’ll give up. For some, the stupidity will last longer than others. In the end, if they’re not so fed up with the game, the pirates will fork out for a real copy.